Red Sox send Lugo to Cards for Duncan

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Because you can never trade for just one left-handed hitting, first
baseman-type with a career OPS in the low 800s whose father was a
former All-Star pitcher and whose brother is also a professional
baseball player.

Ever without the historical similarities, it is fascinating that the
Red Sox traded for two such similar players in one day in getting Chris
Duncan and Adam LaRoche. However, while LaRoche is coming over to play
a significant role down the stretch, Duncan is likely being looked at
strictly as insurance. It’s no secret that he’s hurting, and the
Cardinals had just optioned him to the minors. The Red Sox will likely
assign him to Triple-A Pawtucket until an injury opens up a spot.

This trade for Boston was more about getting rid of Julio Lugo. The
Mets appeared interested in signing him as a free agent, but the
Cardinals were willing to part with Duncan and a player to be named.
Duncan wouldn’t seem to have a role in Boston’s plans, but he’s more
depth for a team obsessed with it. The 28-year-old has hit
.257/.348/.458 in 1,147 major league at-bats. He got off to a great
start this year, hitting .304/.417/.522 in April, but he hadn’t done
much of anything since. He was 1-for-27 this month, giving him a season
line of .227/.329/.358.

Duncan is making $825,000 this year as a super-two player. He
probably won’t be due more than $1 million-$1.2 million in 2010, which
should give him some trade value. He’d be a nice platoon option at that
price.

Lugo figures to be just about free for the Cardinals, as the Red Sox
were willing to pick up most or all of the approx. $13.5 million he was
due through the end of next year. He will likely take the spot of the
newly recalled Brian Barden on the St. Louis roster and play behind
Brendan Ryan at shortstop. The Cards are sure to have him work out at
other positions as well, but since he hasn’t played anywhere besides
short since 2007, it could be some time before he’s an option at second
or third. Unfortunately, Lugo has displayed very little range
defensively since coming back from spring knee surgery. He may end up
outhitting Ryan, but he’d be an awfully weak regular unless his legs
come back.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.